One evening, Olivia de Havilland prepares — with great concern to adhere to the strict instructions on the tin, even to the extent of using her reading glasses — Hedy Lamarr’s Marine Fresh™ Skipjack Tuna Salad recipe, and finds it not good.
Lettuce, hard-boiled egg, apple, celery.
Cardboard, she reckons, multiply. As tasteless as. Redolent of. A symphony in. Nutritional value: cardboard.
Being unpersuaded by the bright endorsement of her peer.
Obvious, isn’t it — works fine on the great unwashed.
Cyd Charisse speaks out:—
For my part, I too have always found Hedy Lamarr’s Marine Fresh™ Skipjack Tuna Salad rather cold and lacking in any spritz, brio or zing. Nowhere near as good as Gene Tierney’s Royal Albacore Tuna Salad recipe, lovely with tomatoes and olives, and maybe a few string beans. Oh yes, perfection on a plate.
Greer Garson is one of the undecideds, cautious…
Deborah Kerr is firm as to which side she is on, matching her screen stereotype exactly.
(Tentatively, deciding to in the end) Olivia de Havilland asks the manufacturers for redress in the matter, and receives a voucher for two tins of Marine Fresh™ Skipjack Tuna.
Thus alerted, the manufacturers then issue the obvious statement of respectful disagreement.
—We here at the Hedy Lamarr Faculty of Tuna Salad Research, take very seriously the experience of our customers… etc.
Miss Lamarr tries to maintain a dignity:
—I cannot be expected to lend my name to the perfect recipe, for all occasions, suiting all persons. Can I? Can I?
Olivia de Havilland, our source of strife, wishes to clarify her position:
—Too much has been made of this. I can’t speak for others, but in no way am I seeking to emblematise the supposed corruption and fall of Western civilisation,
Nor — drawing herself to her delightful full height — do I consider this to be a universal problem of paradox.
Nor was the explosion at the Facility blamed on Deanna Durbin.
The subplot: the 100%-necessary Marine Fresh™ tuna.
To the damnation all alternative. Which confuses children:
That’s plain silly, mummy, the sucklings will blurt.
Age-old and fully understood by cynical adults, nothing other will do.
Some people assert, under the nothing other will do Prinzip, that the Catholic rite is vastly superior to the Protestant rite; equally, others, the opposite.
Negatively, that it is not possible to make clam chowder with the inclusion of tinned tomatoes.
Disagreeable, though not wholly distasteful, absurdism that subsides to whimsy, cannot avoid, or seem to resist: obviously, there is no Hedy Lamarr Tuna Salad Research Kitchen Facility.
The practice of ‘notabilities’ lending their name to recipes: this has a surprisingly long history, going back to such nineteenth-century delicacies as Mr Bulwer-Lytton’s Mock Turtle Soup recipe, which made almost as much for him as the novels and plays. The ‘turtle’ part was usually calf’s head and other offal. Turtle soup is worse.
Asks and answers herself Lauren Bacall, in her thesis:
—If Hedy Lamarr does not satisfy, what for the universe?
Marine Fresh™ Skipjack Tuna have cephalopods as a major constituent of their diet, squid in the main. Smaller fish, such as sardines and anchovies. Crustaceans, such as krill. Also jellyfish.
The food chain, great circle of life, nothing other will do.
Olivia de Havilland is un peu tipsy, darling, on an excellent triple-distilled tequila brought round by Liberace one night, and announces her new creation: Olivia de Havilland’s Tuna Surprise.
Surprise, surprise, it’s got fuck all tuna in it.
It’s a modifier to convey the diametric opposite. Here of all, to say none.
Everything other. The excluded set.
And trust what they’re saying: it’s a recipe.
How is this going to end? Not well, but how…?
To close the circle, cash inducement might obtain Gene Tierney’s opinion — these people function best on money — except she’s been dead for many years, so that’s not going to happen.
Although, were she able to enter the imbroglio, Gene Tierney might say she has always found Hedy Lamarr’s recipe to be ‘perfectly good’.
Her semantics instantly, greedily, to be dissected. Damning with faint praise is she? Or failing to realise this is not the occasion for Hollywood PR gritted-teeth united front against the great unwashed.
—Also, I have never rated Barbara Stanwyck’s acting skills very highly, she might have wished to add. Cattily. But couldn’t.
Greek yogurt, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives and a few, very few, capers.
—Like kissing an aunt,
Was how Ava Gardner described her clinch with Miss Tierney in The Night we Jumped the Fence. Her lips were stilled on all else. She couldn’t go further.
How is this to end?
Making of it a joke in rather poor taste, something about “more useful for more women”, Walter Pidgeon refers to the allergic reaction to tinned tuna protein believed to have taken from us the transcendent Veronica Lake,
Swelling, closing her airways, ending.
Can’t argue with that.
—’Allergy’ and ‘allergic’ are rarely used correctly, it’s only a protein you can be allergic to, says the Pedant. Nothing else.
Can’t argue with that.
At the end, she could not speak,
As a consequence, said nothing.